OpenCms: a user-friendly in-browser content solution

The name says it all: OpenCms is an open-source software. Based in Cologne, Germany, Alkacon Software is responsible for developing and maintaining the content management system. An active community also does its part to support and optimise the system. This collaboration between company and community has paid off, as there are many OpenCms templates and addons available to users free of charge. Users will also appreciate how easy it is to both create and manage content with the system.

System requirements and application areas

In stark contrast to other PHP-based CMS solutions like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and TYPO3, OpenCms is based on the markup language XML as well as different Java-based technologies. The cross-platform content management system, OpenCms, can run on every operating system and is accessed directly within the web browser. However, connecting the system to a database (MySQL, PostgeSQL, Oracle, HSQLDB, DB2, and MSSQL are all supported) is required beforehand.

OpenCms makes up the basis of some large company websites. Names like The North Face, Lavazza coffee, and Tommy Hilfiger run on this platform. Regarding a website’s size, the system features many options: it can support both small, neatly structured websites as well as more extensive web portals. OpenCms is especially ideal for midsized-to-large sites. In addition to providing internet solutions, OpenCms also proves useful for creating both intranet and extranet pages. To get an impression of the system’s use and functions, check out the live demo on the provider’s website.

Applications for the software and default OpenCms features

Like many other content management systems, OpenCms is free of charge and can be downloaded from the official website. The CMS is divided into online and offline content. Offline content becomes available for online website visitors only after it’s published. And with the help of its preview function, users are able to test out their content before going live.

Editors don’t need any prior programming knowledge in order to set up or manage content. This is because the programme doesn’t require its backend, i.e. ‘workplace’, to be used during these steps. With OpenCms, a site’s editorial aspects are clearly separated from its technical ones. All of your web project’s content can be easily edited within the webpage itself. Another perk the system boasts is its dialogue box, which enables editors to communicate with one another.

Innate to its design, OpenCms’ SEO features (e.g. generating XML sitemaps, keywords, and descriptions, etc.) are a further advantage of the system. Additional functions of the CMS are:

  • Creating and maintaining content via WYSIYG editor
  • A drag-and-drop feature that allows users to add and arrange content and templates on individual pages
  • Adding media content, such as images or videos, via a gallery function
  • Structuring all pages via a sitemap editor
  • Nuanced user roles and rights concept
  • Expansion and maintenance of various websites
  • Option for creating multilingual websites

Modular extensions

Thanks to the open source approach, technically inclined users are able to tailor the CMS to their individual needs: OpenCms templates can be adjusted as desired so as to better fit your preferences; individual web applications can also be developed with this programme. Easily importable extensions allow even less experienced users to quickly expand basic OpenCms features.

Most OpenCms extensions are free and can be obtained as modules, which are available for download on the official website’s download page. Here you can find templates and/or additional programme functions. As well as admin and content extensions, modules for expanding online stores or online surveys are also available. The broad selection of features makes it possible to professionally develop virtually any sort of website.

The pros and cons of OpenCms

OpenCms is especially suitable for creating professional websites with a mids-to-large array of functions. It could be worthwhile looking into other alternatives for creating small blogs, online stores, or community platforms.

However, despite this shortcoming, OpenCms has its strengths in other areas. If it’s your aim to manage content without any specific programming knowledge, then this CMS proves an excellent choice–especially when editing content with multiple editors. This is where the thoroughly conceptualised role and right systems are particularly handy. This pragmatic operation of this programme, which enables even beginners to publish and edit content, has made it a popular choice for both intra and extranet solutions.

And even if the community behind OpenCms isn’t as large as those of the market leaders, like WordPress or Joomla, it will nonetheless be able to provide you with the necessary assistance for answering questions or tackling difficult problems. For all other queries that can’t be answered by the community, a fee-based customer service programme is provided by OpenCms’ official coordinator, Alkacon Software.

While OpenCms isn’t among the market leaders for content management systems, working with this programme will prove that it’s more than capable of holding its own against the big dogs. In the end, however, individual tastes, requirements, and your own skill level are what determine which CMS is the right choice for you.